It was all tentacles and little paws on deck this past month as my West-Mont students and I tackled two large collaborative quilt projects.
Quilting with children on a large scale like this (58 students) is not for the faint of heart. This project is prep heavy, coming in at over 55 hours of personal prep time.
Status: Worth it!
I would like to thank the estate of Kay Reamsbotham for the generous donation of all the quilting fabrics.
This is truly a collaborative project, with older students pitching in to help with sewing buttons or threading needles and tying knots. Karly even became our resident "whisker expert." Once she learned the stitch technique for making whiskers, she helped teach the other students who needed to make whiskers.
And talk about confidence boosting.When 6 year old Nowa chose the hardest square on the octopus to make he assured me with joyful confidence that this was the square for him.
Here's how the project and prep breaks down:
1. Prime, draw and paint a pattern onto canvas that is the size you want your quilt to be (8 hours prep).
2. Measure and cut the canvas pattern apart into 6 inch squares (1 hour prep).
3. Prepare fabric scraps by cutting them into 8 inch squares. This is when the students get to choose the pattern square they want, as well as their fabric choices. I always prepare about 10% extra, so that the last students choosing their fabrics still have options (4.5 hours prep).
4. Translating the pattern to fabric; I used tracing paper to create the fabric pieces to be sewn. I chose to do this for the students as it is a complicated and time consuming step. I imagine smaller classes and older students could manage this step for themselves. The prepared squares are then put into embroidery hoops (8 hours prep).
5. We are almost ready to sew now. The last step is to prep the threads. Ordinary thread tangles too easily and embroidery thread is too thick. The solution is to separate the 6 strands of embroidery thread into strands of two. I wind the threads onto card stock, ready for threading. I then thread the needles and coil them into egg cartons to keep them tangle free. This has to be done multiple times before the quilts are done, and is a really nice step for the students to help out with (3 hours prep).
6. Ready to sew! Here is Nowa's square that he has been sewn and is waiting to have it's buttons added.
7. Piecing the squares together is when the magic happens. Have fun! The fabric can then be quilted with batting and backing and decorative trim (25 hours prep).
It took my students about three art classes each to sew their quilt squares. (Other misc tasks between classes 6 hours prep).
These beautiful quilts will be on display during the Stinking Fish Studio Fall Show at the West-Mont School.